Bloody Elle: Cameron refuses to wear feminist t-shirt, Twitter reacts

Bloody Elle: Cameron refuses to wear feminist t-shirt, Twitter reacts
Prime Minister David Cameron faced fierce criticism on social media on Monday for his refusal to wear a t-shirt supporting feminism. While rival party leaders donned the shirts, captioned ‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like,’ Cameron declined.

The campaign by Elle Magazine follows Emma Watson’s speech to the UN, which called for men to become engaged in the feminist cause in a movement called #HeForShe.

British Actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson (AFP Photo / Miguel Rojo)

Elle’s t-shirt campaign has attracted interest from high-profile celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

“This is a shame on so many levels, especially given he knew Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband had agreed without hesitation,” said Lorraine Candy, Editor of Elle.

She said Cameron would have been “alongside many other influential men who were more than happy to call themselves feminists,” adding “it seems the Prime Minister still has an issue with the word feminist.”

The PM’s press office said that rather than wear a t-shirt, Cameron would provide a quote in support of the campaign. It later materialized that the quote did not mention the word “feminism.”

Cameron’s apparent issue with the word “feminism” was documented in September 2013 when Red Magazine asked Cameron if he called himself a “feminist.” The PM replied that he didn’t “know what I’d call myself … it’s up to others to attach labels. But I believe men and women should be treated equally.”

He further provoked criticism in 2011 when he told the Labour MP Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear” during a debate in the House of Commons.

His refusal to wear the t-shirt prompted outcry on social media, with feminists eager to claim the PM would not be an appropriate ambassador for the movement. They cited Cameron’s membership of the exclusive, male-only Oxford drinking society, The Bullingdon Club.

The head of the Fawcett Society, Daisy Sands, said she was pleased all three party leaders had shown willingness to support equality, but said it was a shame Cameron did not openly associate himself with feminism.

“As it stands, it would appear that David Cameron is not comfortable with identifying himself with the cause of feminism, which, given the huge contribution the feminist movement has made to advancing women’s rights, is unfortunate.”